From Relief to Recovery, the Red Cross Responds to Sandy
Almost two years ago, 900-mile-wide Superstorm Sandy came ashore in New York having already pummeled Puerto Rico and an extensive swath of the East Coast. Sandy’s strong winds, torrential rains and flooding caused 117 deaths in the United States, including 53 in New York, and forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
The devastating storm brought destruction and heartbreaking loss throughout the Greater New York region. Starting even before Sandy’s landfall, Red Cross staff and volunteers moved quickly to bring relief, supporting the state’s shelters and feeding sites. Across the affected region, the Red Cross provided more than 74,000 overnight stays and more than 17 million meals and snacks. Red Cross volunteers visited heavily damaged communities and neighborhoods, delivering food, blankets, health care, emotional support and critical relief supplies.
When the immediate response needs receded, the Red Cross worked with our state and local government partners to ensure that Red Cross plans for recovery would focus assistance where it was needed most.
Sandy Donations to Red Cross: 99 percent Spent or Committed
Thanks to the generosity of so many donors large and small, the Red Cross received $311.5 million in donations for Sandy emergency relief and recovery efforts. As we near the two-year mark of Sandy’s landfall, the Red Cross has spent or committed more than 99 percent of these donations as of August 31, 2014. Red Cross staff and the partner groups that we have funded continue to work to ensure the availability of case management, housing rebuild and repair assistance, and financial support for people affected by Sandy with ongoing needs.
Red Cross case managers have worked hand-in-hand with nonprofit and government partners to help meet ongoing challenges and needs—family by family, neighbor by neighbor. On Staten Island, Sandy flooded the two-bedroom bungalow of John and Laura Auer. “When my husband and son dragged me out, the water was up to my chest,” Laura Auer said. “When it was all said and done it was way over my head.”
The Auer family met Red Cross case manager Chris Losavio, who promised to keep working until they found the help they needed. “If it wasn’t for Chris, I would not be home,” Auer said.
The Red Cross, in partnership with the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and New York Disaster Interfaith Services, assisted the family both in making necessary repairs and in purchasing new furniture and appliances, enabling them to return home in June 2014. Losavio also organized his Red Cross co-workers, who volunteered their own time to work with Tunnel to Towers on the needed repairs.
For the Auers and thousands of other families with uncovered housing-related expenses, the Red Cross Move-In Assistance Program served as a vital bridge in relocating from hotels to sustainable housing or completing repairs on their Sandy-damaged homes.
As of September 24, 2014, the program has provided more than $32.2 million to more than 5,100 households, including more than$22 million to more than 3,200 New Yorkers.
Supporting a Broad Network of Recovery Services
Recovery on the scale of a storm like Sandy requires the coordinated efforts of many organizations. To meet this need, the Red Cross has awarded more than $91 million in funding to more than 85 organizations that have provided home repairs and rebuilding, mold remediation, food, financial assistance and mental health counseling.
The Red Cross funded several food banks serving New York City and Long Island to help feed families experiencing hardships due to Sandy’s lingering impact. Grant support of rebuilding groups such as Rebuilding Together helped restore thousands of Sandy-damaged homes, including that of June Fyffe and her daughter Sacha of Canarsie, Brooklyn. Nearly a dozen Red Cross volunteers worked with Rebuilding Together to help sand and paint the family’s home and even work on landscaping. “These people are very good,” June said. “We’re definitely glad for this program.”
Many New Yorkers who experienced pronounced losses have had intense, stress-related emotions related to the storm. The Red Cross has funded organizations like Visiting Nurse Service of New York to provide mental health services and support in some of the hardest-hit communities. Licensed clinical social workers work one-on-one with survivors to help them manage feeling overwhelmed and grief-stricken. “The program was really uplifting,” said Angela Toscano, a resident of Midland Beach, Staten Island. “At times when I had lost hope and had no one to turn to, I was able to find the strength to hold on and pull out of it.”
The Red Cross is the largest funder of Unmet Needs Roundtables in Long Island and New York City. The Roundtables, which bring together a diverse group of community donors, offer financial assistance, construction supplies and volunteer repair services to people affected by Sandy who continue to have unmet needs. The Red Cross funding will help ensure that the Roundtables are available to address unmet recovery needs over the long term. Across the Northeast, the Red Cross has provided more than $14 million in funding to 21 long-term recovery groups in communities that experienced the most devastation from Sandy.
Food and Shelter
The Red Cross opens shelters to ensure people have a safe place to stay before, during and after the storm. The Red Cross serves meals at shelters, as well as from emergency response vehicles moving through neighborhoods and fixed feeding sites in affected communities. This includes donations to food banks.
Individual Casework and Assistance
Caseworkers from the Red Cross and other agencies meet with individuals affected by disaster to offer assistance, identify special needs and help them plan their long-term recovery. Assistance can include groceries, clothing, furniture, move-in assistance, security deposits, lodging and other aid to help a family get back on its feet.
Housing and Community Assistance
The Red Cross provides assistance to meet housing needs for those whose homes were most seriously damaged by the disaster. This includes assistance for items such as repairs and rebuilding, mold removal, appliances and volunteer housing.
The Red Cross distributes a range of relief items, including comfort kits with hygiene items like toothbrushes and toothpaste, cleaning supplies, flashlights, batteries, trash bags, cold-weather essentials (gloves, blankets, hand-warmers) and shovels.
Disaster Vehicles, Equipment and Warehousing
Red Cross workers drive through neighborhoods to distribute water, food and relief supplies in more than 300 feeding trucks as well as rental cars, trucks and other vehicles. This also includes costs associated with warehousing, fleet management, fuel and other necessities.
Physical and Mental Health Services
The Red Cross provides physical and emotional support services to clients, which has included first aid and replacement of prescription medicines.
The Red Cross is providing funding to National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) and other agencies that work to coordinate recovery efforts.
The Red Cross improves the ability of disaster-impacted communities to respond to future emergencies by purchasing and pre-positioning relief supplies, convening partner organizations and conducting planning and training exercises.